Virginia Commission for the Blind

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The Virginia Commission for the Blind building in Richmond is important for its close association with Lucian Louis Watts, whose career sought to improve the lives of Virginia’s blind citizens. Watts was acknowledged as a “leader in demonstrating the ability of a state agency to deliver a wide range of services to blind adults and children,” according to historian Frances A. Koestler. Watts helped to establish state and national organizations that remain active to this day, in particular, the Virginia Association of Workers for the Blind (now Virginia Industries for the Blind), the Virginia Commission for the Blind (now the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired), and the American Foundation for the Blind.

The Virginia Commission for the Blind building was designed in the popular Colonial Revival style in 1940 by J. Binford Walford, a well-regarded Virginia architect who designed institutional buildings at a number of Virginia universities. His building for the Virginia Commission for the Blind served until 1980 as the principal administrative offices for statewide services for the blind. Additionally, it provided vocational training, an ophthalmological clinic, and a regional Braille and “talking machine books” library. Construction in 1958 of an addition to the building gave it its current form.

Last Updated: June 2, 2023

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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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